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Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By Richard Crashaw (1613?–1640)

A Descant on the Twenty-third Psalm

HAPPY me, O happy sheep!
Whom my God vouchsafes to keep,
Ev’n my God, ev’n He it is
That points me to these paths of bliss;
On Whose pastures cheerful Spring        5
All the year doth sit and sing,
And rejoicing, smiles to see
Their green backs wear His livery:
Pleasure sings my soul to rest,
Plenty wears me at her breast,        10
Whose sweet temper teaches me
Not wanton, nor in want to be.
At my feet the blubbering mountain
Weeping melts into a fountain,
Whose soft silver-sweating streams        15
Make high-noon forget his beams:
When my wayward breath is flying,
He calls home my soul from dying,
Strokes and tames my rabid grief,
And does woo me into life:        20
When my simple weakness strays
(Tangled in forbidden ways)
He, my Shepherd, is my Guide;
He’s before me, on my side,
And behind me; He beguiles        25
Craft in all her knotty wiles:
He expounds the weary wonder
Of my giddy steps, and under
Spreads a path clear as the day
Where no churlish rub says nay        30
To my joy-conducted feet,
Whilst they gladly go to meet
Grace and Peace, to learn new lays
Tuned to my great Shepherd’s praise.
Come now, all ye terrors, sally,        35
Muster forth into the valley,
Where triumphant darkness hovers
With a sable wing, that covers
Brooding horror. Come, thou Death,
Let the damps of thy dull breath        40
Overshadow e’en that shade,
And make Darkness ’self afraid;
There my feet, e’en there, shall find
Way for a resolvèd mind.
Still my Shepherd, still my God        45
Thou art with me; still Thy rod
And Thy staff, whose influence
Gives direction, gives defence.
At the whisper of Thy word
Crown’d abundance spreads my board;        50
While I feast, my foes do feed
Their rank malice, not their need,
So that with the self-same bread
They are starved and I am fed.
How my head in ointment swims!        55
How my cup o’erlooks her brims!
So, e’en so, still may I move
By the line of Thy dear love;
Still may Thy sweet mercy spread
A shady arm above my head,        60
About my paths; so shall I find
The fair centre of my mind,
Thy temple, and those lovely walls
Bright ever with a beam that falls
Fresh from the pure glance of Thine eye,        65
Lighting to Eternity.
There I’ll dwell for ever, there
Will I find a purer air
To feed my life with, there I’ll sup
Balm and nectar in my cup;        70
And thence my ripe soul will I breathe
Warm into the arms of Death.